Medical Insurance, Obama Care, Auto Insurance, Homeowners Insurance and Dental Insurance…they all have one thing in common—they don’t cover everything. For the premiums that we pay, we all wish that they did offer 100% coverage, but that’s not how it works.
One of the most interesting contrasts in insurance is Auto vs. Dental. Auto insurance is not set up as a “preventive policy”. If it were preventive in nature then your oil and filter change, tire rotation and fluid checks would be the main focus. These are the preventive maintenance procedures that help keep your car running for many, many miles—at a pretty reasonable cost.
We all know that failure to routinely change the oil and filter in your car will result in costly engine repairs due to wear. We know that timely tire rotations not only increases the life of the expensive tires but also helps keep higher future cost of, fuel, suspension, rims, shocks and tire wear and replacement down.
No one who I know has preventive auto care insurance that includes oil changes and tire rotations. And yet, we all learn from 16 years old and up —some of us the expensive, hard way—that maintenance is cheap, neglect is expensive. So, even without preventive auto insurance, we take care of our cars with our own discretionary spending money.
Ironically, Dental Insurance is Preventive in its design and function. The irony, or truly, the frustration, for me is watching dental patients fail to take advantage of the preventive nature of dental benefits. More people pay out of pocket for auto upkeep than take advantage of their dental insurance as it was intended, with less out of pocket.
To date, I have yet to find a dental benefits company that contracts dentists at 100% patient coverage for complete quality dental care. Of interest are recent studies quoted on the American Dental Association educational website, “satisfaction of capitation plans” and “health of capitation plans”. There is a saying that is pretty accurate when discussing dental insurance, “You get what you pay for!”. Studies and polls of patient satisfaction support this.
Frustrations about coverage aside, most dental plans do cover prevention—meaning that they offer the best coverage benefits for healthy gum cleaning and routine oral exams, necessary x-rays and basic preventive fillings. And, I can promise you that any Federal funded programs will be the same.
So, back to your auto oil change… If you fail to change your oil and oil filter on a regular basis, your engine wears faster, runs less efficiently and costs a lot more in repairs not too far down the road.
If you fail to maintain your teeth and gum health on a regular basis like your auto oil change, the same catastrophic and much more expensive breakdowns occur in your mouth.
The great news, though, is that your dental insurance benefits program is designed to help cover the cost of your preventive approach. And, if you do not have dental insurance, the preventive costs of dental care are very low—as low as routine auto maintenance.
It’s the breakdown of your mouth due to failure to invest in preventive care (even with the available dental benefits that many of you have) that causes a higher cost in future dental care.
So, if you have dental insurance, be certain that you use it as it is intended, as preventive care. It is a benefit to help offset the cost of quality dental care. And the longer neglect drags on, the less your dental benefits will help pay for your expensive dental care that inevitably lies ahead.
Peter Vanstrom, DDS